By Faye Gaston

On May 31, 2021, a Memorial Day event was held at the Union Springs Fire Department. Tables held American flags, poppies, and gift cards to distribute. The purpose was to recognize and thank First Responders in Bullock County and veterans who have died in military service.

It was organized by the American Legion Post #2016, the Bell Cook Hopson Auxiliary #337, assisted by Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post #5980.

Commander Clarence Wheeler of Post #2016 gave the welcome.

Gene Nelson, Chaplain of Post #2016, prayed the opening prayer. He also explained that the idea to hold this event came from a "sense of patriotism and a sense of prayer". It evolved into presenting the "Buy Bullock gift cards" to 133 First Responders. This would require donations of $10 per First Responder ($1,330). Churches, organizations and individuals donated funds.

Ronnie Felder, Union Springs Police Chief, brought greetings on behalf of the City of Union Springs.

Chaplain Nelson said that on Memorial Day we recognize those veterans who paid "the ultimate sacrifice for their country (their lives), who make the difference between freedom and chaos".

Henry Christian, former State Commander, asked for a "minute of silence" to honor veterans. David Padgett spoke for the Chamber of Commerce and explained the gift cards. Rob Cameron, Union Springs Fire Department Chief, spoke appreciation for this event on behalf of the eight volunteer fire departments in Bullock County.

Bundles of gift cards were presented and words of appreciation for them were spoken by Police Chief Felder for ten policemen and Sheriff Raymond Rodgers for six officers.

Five Fire Chiefs spoke appreciation for their departments: Union Springs' eight firemen, Fitzpatrick's thirteen firemen, Midway's fifteen firemen, Hwy 51 N's sixteen firemen, and Almeria's ten firemen. Bundles of gift cards would be delivered to Dispatch (8), Jailers (8), EMTs (5) and fire departments in Corinth (8 firemen), Smuteye (15 firemen), and Cornerstone (11 fireman).

Chaplain Nelson said, "Memorial Day is an American holiday" and USA flags were available on a table to be distributed throughout the community to be placed by grave markers of military veterans. Post Commander Willie Crawford distributed poppies, the flower to be worn to remember veterans.

Concluding remarks were made by John McGowan (Post #2016), Ruby Swanson (President of Bell Cook Hopson Auxiliary #337), and Clarence Wheeler, (Commander of Post #216).

Union Springs Mayor Roderick Clark, on behalf of the City of Union Springs, thanked the veterans organizations for this special event.

Louis Pugh prayed the closing prayer.

Memorial Day 2021 will be remembered in Union Springs for this moving ceremony to reflect on military veterans who gave their full sacrifice in service to our country, and to their grieving families to whom every day is Memorial Day.

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